Final tests and failures

Program complete.

So just a few more projects, and this session is a wrap.  Since the last post I've had time to get a few more fusings finished, pack the majority of my work up and ship it home, help clean the campus, fly home, and finally get some sleep in a bed that my feet don't hang over the edge.  As a class we also had the opportunity to get off campus for a day of taking in the glass side of Seattle.

Let's start with the final projects...

One of the things I really enjoyed about my work area was the sunlight that would come in during the morning.  The light refraction on the table is very beautiful, and something I want to keep working with.  Even going so far as to draw on the glass to make stronger marks/shadows on the table to help compose it a little better.

So this started with the bottle molds from before, now it was a matter of making some vessels in the hot shop and cold working them to a point of ease of removal for the finished piece.  This means using a thicker vessel than normal, so it would be more likely to hold it's shape as the mass of glass beads inside heated up.  So I was able to get away with some things I normally don't try to in regards to these vessels.  They were thicker, they weren't puntied, and barely cold worked at all.  The trickiest part by far was slicing them in half, especially for the long neck vase since all it would take is one slight over-caffeniated twitch to bind that long neck in the blade and snap it.

Once the pieces were sliced in half, I then had to remove the glass that was the bottom of the cup and the top of the foot.  This part took a little longer since the drill press was broken, as a result I had to do it by hand with a Dremel and diamond bits.  Once that was finished, then it was sandblast the interior, and notch the outside a few times.  Then coat the halves with an alumina oxide and kaolin clay mixture, once it was dry I could wire the halves together with some stainless steel wire.  After all of that... I could begin filling the interior with glass to fuse.  Since it was a test, nothing too fancy, but I wanted to continue to use some of the black powder I used on the last bottle mold, for some decorative elements.

Once these molds were filled, it was just a matter of getting them in the kiln.  Bring them up to 1275 and hold for about 20 minutes, then cool.  Sorta like baking cookies.  Anyway, I did quite think it all through and did have a minor set back.

I didn't figure on the weight of the top making the cup fall over.  It's fairly obvious now, thanks hindsight!, but at the time I was more worried making sure I could make the last firing schedule on time.  As objects I don't think they're bad... now that being said, it's not what I wanted, but again, they're not bad.  Since these it was a matter of sitting down and thinking about how to correct this mishap, which was easy to figure out... fire the damn thing upside down.  

One word that used to describe these was flaccid, which given the rampant machismo in any given hot shop, I find that statement very amusing.  The form itself is taken from a 16th century venetian goblet design and the whole fact it slumped over but retained its shape seems to be a good statement to a current predicament of studio glass these days.  That glass is being used for a more narrative conversation and the pursuit of perfection in technique is falling to the wayside.  Not that technique will ever completely disappear, but the shift of the paradigm is more noticeable now than it ever was.

So that's two...

Up next was the long neck.  This one I wanted to use for one of my manipulation assignments.  Yes we had assignments, and in a way it was good, it gave us something to focus on during the session so we weren't flailing around trying to figure out what to do.  The system to hold the mold was complicated, and there's always the "what if?" factor when trying something new.

So this was the result of what happened.  Not what I wanted, but not bad on it's own.  This object and the previous two were well liked by some of my classmates and some of the rest of campus overall.  Interestingly enough, this project I deemed a failure.  It did not turn out how I wanted, but that's why we do stuff like this... to figure that out.  Which I believe I have done, now I just need to test it again, and again, and again.  The prep work for the glass "mold" was the same as the previous two.  The housing for it was completely different.  This consisted of placing this vessel halves in a walled off sand pit and bringing the whole thing up to about 1350-1400 F.  The idea was that the alumina mix would be the release and I could pop these out and recombine them.

That did not happen... at all... even in the slightest.  However as objects they do reference the history of glass as a whole and have the potential to be displayed a museological works.  This brings to mind Joshia McHelny's earlier work, but only with a reference to the blown form and not the blown form; or it's fragments; being the final object.

That makes three...

So this is what happens when your embossing plate is too tall to run through the printing press.

The white highlights you see on the paper is actually micro-beads embed into the paper from the pressure of the printing press.

One of the last things I was able to do was a print run of my intaglio plate from earlier in the session.  Before the print run, I had filled some of the sandblasted areas with micro-beads and fuse them to the plate  The idea was that I could augment the embossment further than what plate could have done on it's own.  It did work, mostly.  The additional mass of the micro-beads cracked the plate in the press.  Normally that's the end of the run.  However, I did notice that in the first proof that the micro-beads were pulling off in the plate and into the paper.  At that point there was nothing to do but finish the run.  As the run progressed I started to separate the larger shards more and even remove some pieces of glass to change the print from whole to cracked at the end.  All the prints are impregnated with micro-beads and are "inked" in a way with light.  This was one of my favorite things I made the entire session.

Again, this didn't turn out as expected but the result is no less interesting.  I would even go so far as to say that if it had turned out as expected it wouldn't have been nearly as successful as a finished piece.  I was even able to tack fuse the plate back together in the kiln again as another piece, but it was barely together again.  Too fragile for transport so it didn't  get sent home.  

All together for the session I completed a half tone print (AP), and embossment run (1-6), 2 versions of the same intaglio plate, 2 bottles, 2 slumped goblets, 2 halves of organics(CMC) and glass with 1 vase, 1 piece with organics(flour) and glass, and 1 pulled billet.  For three weeks, I feel that's a good amount of work.  The intaglio plate is the only thing not getting shipped back to Ohio.  

Now to try and get a show arranged ohm the second floor of DSB soon.  A few more refined pieces after i get back might be good to throw in there as well, but that's dependent on how soon I have to present my findings for the faculty colloquium.  I believe that's in spring, but I'll know soon.


Finished experiments

So since the last post I was able to get some things finished, it was for the show that the class put on yesterday.  I found I was more productive than I initially felt, and I'm still trying to get 3 more items ready for the kiln tomorrow.  I also need finish everything up in the print shop as well.  Add to that trading all the photos we took as a class with each other, and formal documentation of our work happens on Monday as well.  This week is super busy with all the little things to get done before Walkthrough.  For Walkthrough, all the studios shut down and everyone takes a walk through the other studios, and this happens on Wednesday.  It's a chance to see what all the other classes have been up to as it's REALLY easy to get locked in to your projects and work area.  

This post will be a little shorter word wise, I'm writing this before the class field trip this morning.  We will be going to the Boathouse, Chihuly's hot shop, Traver and Vetri Galleries, and the Museum of Glass all before getting back to campus for a wedding that's happening at Pilchuck this session. 

Bottle molds - Fused glass, ~8" tall

Organics and glass - Fused spectrum glass and flour, 3"W x 3"D x 6"H

Intaglio print form a glass plate, ~10"W x 15"H

Embossing plate - Fused plate glass and micro-beads

Billet - Active kiln forming, ~7"W x 10"D x 5"H

All measurements are rough, I'm getting better numbers later today.

This was a great experience, and I'm so glad I did this and so thankful to have the opportunity.  Most of the work is actually cohesive, and with the work in the next few days I'll actually have a new body of work.  The biggest benefit of doing a class like this is the freedom to experiment and mess up.  The cost of screwing up has already been factored in, and in a way that pressure of "having to make work" goes away.  I had a lot of fun, but also learned a ton.  Not only from the demos but from the conversations with my teachers and fellow students.  New assignments are swimming through my head, but also new ideas for my work that started here but I definitely want to continue once I get back.

I want to do this again, and again, and again...

You get the idea.


Some success

So I have some progress!  This morning I have some time in Pilchuck's secondary hot shop, know as the casting shop, and will be able to make some work for later this week.  Since the last post I have been able to get an experimental mold tested, a Rayzist photo-transfer ready for the print shop, and mixed organics with milled glass for a slab mold in the kiln.  All of these things are things I haven't done before and I'm pretty excited for today's work.  

Part of today's work will be getting this glass plate printed.  You can see from the two photos above the original image, which was slightly doctored, and the sandblasted Rayzist glass plate underneath.  This was an interesting process and helped confirm my loathing for Photoshop even more.  The image I chose was, of course, not ideal for this process.  This process works best with pictures of a high contrast, so any graphic imagery would work well here.  However, there is a way to convert the image to a half-tone gradient and this is what was done.  I chose the smallest dot size to try and make it as close to the original picture as possible.  Even then there's still some image loss, not necessarily through the Photoshop image but when I went to sandblast the image into the plate.  The dots were so small that I got a few areas where I just blew to dots off the plate.  I know we have a roll of Rayzist at CCAD, now it's a matter of finding the product number and working with illustration, ad/graph, and photo majors to put their work into glass.  

Today will focus on making a good print run, my class has access to the print shop today, and then cleaning out that plate REALLY well.  Once it's cleaned out, I'll fill the sandblasted areas with glass micro-beads and fire that to tack fuse them together.  Then go back down to the print shop in the next few days to print the embossed plate.  So it's a subtractive and then additive process to produce several results with one  slightly over-worked object.  

Next up, mixing organics with powdered glass.  So a mix of 50/50 flour and milled glass powder, with a little bit of water, yields a very stable bread dough like substance.  It in fact raises in the kiln like bread.  When talking about this to Anjali, the correlation of a soufflĂ© came up in regards to how delicate it is in the kiln in regards to how it raises and falls.  It doesn't take much to disturb this mixture.  If the mix is altered... extra things like yeast, sugar, eggs, other baking items... the matrix destabilizes and the glass behaves differently.  This has me wondering about purposely destablizing the mix to see if I can get the glass to disintegrate over time, more than likely as an outdoor installation.  Clean up, or containment, will be a concern and I will have to think about this more.

My slab mold with the puffy glass mixture on top of Spectrum sheets, with just a dash of black glass powder.  Cooking fun in the studio!

So this being an experimental casting class, I had the idea of using glass vessels as molds.  No plaster involved.  A normal kiln mold for glass is usually a 50/50 mix of plaster and silica.  I was thinking if applied a few coats of kiln was or alumina oxide to the interior of the object, that should be a sufficient enough resist to prevent any tack fusing with the glass inside the mold.  The intial test is using a beer bottle (ready-made object) washed with alumina oxide on the inside and then packed with clear and black glass marbles.  Then back fill the entire mold with #5 size micro-beads to fill all the gaps in between the marbles.  Tack fuse the entire thing at about 1250 F for about 20 minutes, and then see what happens.  My main concern is that since the bottle is thin, overall wall thickness is only about 1/8 inch, that if I run the kiln too hot the whole thing will slump over.  My hope is that I could fill a kiln with work in one go as there wouldn't be and molds to eat up shelf space in the kiln.  So loading a kiln with 10-15 pieces instead of 5-7.

I am really excited with how things are coming along, it's also exhausting but that's the idea.  Become inundated with ideas and information and just tired enough to try just about anything without fear of failure.  Most of my days are 18 hours long.  Get up at about 6, and go to bed around 10-12 at night.  There's still so much to do.

Did I mention we are also trying to get a small show going on campus from the class?


Work, work, work

So things are getting under way and speeding up.  I was initially restless with the speed of the class at first, however that has quickly gone away.  Aimee and Anjali have a good schedule of flooding us with techniques this week and then letting us concentrate on our own projects later. For right now we have some daily tasks, and assignments.  Every day we have to come up with two; 4 x 4"; test tiles of glass.  Each tile is then fired to a different temperature.  One low at ~1375, and the other high at ~1550.  This gives us a chance to work with 6 different types of glass, combine them, and see what works and what doesn't in terms of temperature and compatibility.  The first set is out, and the current set is coming down in the kiln this morning.  My first test tiles were composed mostly of float glass, something that is readily available in most areas, and it's pretty much compatible with only itself.  I had combined the float glass with Spectrum; Bullseye; bits of glass bangles from India; small stones; clear beer bottle glass; some of those clear marbles I've used on vessels and micro-beads.  This lead to some beautiful marks in the glass.  Now I have to figure out a way to get the crazing, lots of small cracks, to happen and less of the big chunky cracks.  I'll probably be able to control it more once with have access to the second hot shop this evening.  Pulling stringers to about an 1/8" thickness and embedding that into the float glass should be able to accomplish this.  I think.  I'll find out later once I run another set of tiles.  That's the whole reason for being here... experiment, take notes, and record.

We have had a bottle assignment... cut it up, arrange it, fire it, maybe manipulate it hot once it hits it's peak temperature.  This assignment is one I definitely want to bring back to the school.  It's readily available glass, it would introduce students to the cold shop(cutting; grinding; polishing), adhesives, the kiln, rendering a former 3-D object to a relief or a new hot manipulated object.  Exciting stuff really.

My bottle project has kind of been a launch for of lot other projects.  To quote Beth Hasseler... "Work makes work."  This has been true ever since she uttered those words.  So being a vessel maker, it's been hard for me to get past that part of myself, however I've decided to use it as a catalyst for my works here.  So far the bottle project has spun off into several things.  The first of which are powder drawings.

The one thing I noticed about several of the other student's slides, we all had to present examples of our work to the other students, that there was a lot of layering of glass powder in the kiln that would then be fired to stick together that would then be stacked or arranged after it was out of the kiln.  This gives a delicate and organic quality to the glass that you "sort of" have control over in regards to how the glass is piled on.  So I started thinking about how I can use these qualities, and after some talking to the instructors, we came up powder drawings.  I made a stencil, and then sifted glass powder directly on to the kiln shelf.  These are only about an 1 1/2" tall, so they'll be really delicate once they come out of the kiln, but they're are a starting point for a few other projects as well.

A fired powder drawing.

After they out of the kiln today, I would like to get them to the library, scan them, manipulate them in Photoshop and use those digital versions as a basis for a print series.  Maybe just a clear digital photo will since they are small, only an 1 1/2" tall and, and the line quality is very thin, maybe a 1/16 of an inch.  I will probably have to transfer the image by hand onto a sand blast resist, which would be on a glass printing plate.  Sandblast the image out, kind of deep, and load the plate with ink really well and then print that plate until it runs out of ink.  Then clean that plate out really well, and then load it again with glass micro-beads and then tack fuse that.  Then possibly do another print run, but this time slowly increase the pressure to emboss the paper more as the pressure increases.  Several ideas for one project, and we're only four days in.

My feeling is that as this goes on I will more than enough information to have some collaborative projects with other areas of campus.  Using 3-D prints from the FabLab for making quick silicone molds for casting.  Or talking with the print department to figure out a way to make an add-on for the presses to accommodate glass plates.  I believe it's just a wood board with a rectangular hole cut in it.  Getting a specific mesh of screen for the glass department's own silk screens to silk screen glass powder on to a plate before firing it.  Which would be great for illustration and printmaking focused students taking glass.  We could then use those fired plates back in the hot shop and roll them up into vessels or put them back in the kiln, perhaps on a metal armature coated in kiln wash to sag it.  

I already have 7 pages of notes to go over and compile when I get back... and there's still 13 days left.